Stress in kids…

Email: Think my child is experiencing stress. What can be done? (India)

Empathetic. Any change that causes physical, emotional & psychological strain is called stress. Adults often experience stress, express it in words. Similarly, a child also experiences stress but may not be able to express it in words. They may show sudden changes in behaviour like emotional withdrawal, crying, clinginess, nail biting, inability to sleep, nervousness, stomach aches, temper tantrums etc. Kids & teens can easily fall into the trap of negative thinking.

Stress in kids gets triggered due to many reasons like a new sibling, moving house, starting school or childcare, family illness or death, divorce, adolescence, over involvement of parents, learning difficulties, academic pressures etc. Kids have their own methods to cope, handle their reactions differently. Some have a natural ability to cope with stress, others need guidance.

Parents play a key role in preventing stressful situations & managing stress. We can share with our child if we notice something is bothering them. Helps them open up about challenges. Giving a compassionate ear helps them feel understood, accepted to vent out what they feel without judgement. Journaling or art therapies help.

We can also help our child label their feelings. Many can’t use words for emotions. Kids need an emotional vocabulary. Improves their communication skills, develops emotional awareness, builds confidence. Stressful situations like incomplete homework, last-minute preparations can be improved with organisational skills. Patience is key.

Rest & relaxation is essential for physical & emotional well-being. Physical activity is a great way to relieve stress. Promoting healthy screen usage prevents exposure to cyber-bullying, peer pressures, questionable content. We can compassionately, positively frame things to build resilience to stress. Ultimately, professional counselling works.

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